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U.S. utility defends gas stoves to avert electrification threat

Kitchen stoves account for less than 1% of U.S. natural gas consumption. But pipe companies that deliver gas to homes have rallied political forces to block proposals to reduce gas stove use.

According to federal records, large U.S. gas utilities include: centerpoint energy and CMS energyand their industry groups have been lobbying for legislation this year, including the Save Our Gas Stoves Act, which passed the House in June.

The law is intended to stop the Department of Energy from imposing new efficiency standards for gas stoves. The bill’s sponsors argue that most current models could be forced off the market. The White House insists it has no plans to ban gas stoves.

For utilities, monopolies with regulated revenues based on asset value, the lobbying reflects concerns that stoves could mark the beginning of a broader phase-out. Natural gas Because climate policy aims for more electrification of the energy system.

Ryan Kelly, portfolio manager of the Hennessy Gas Utility Fund, said: “The actual economic hit of a nationwide natural gas stove ban is very small and not that big of a deal.” I think the bigger problem is that this trend will lead to a complete ban on anything that uses natural gas in the home. ”

According to the Energy Information Administration, more than 47 million homes in the United States cook with gas, or 38% of the total. In 2020, 88.3 billion cubic feet of gas was used for home cooking, or 0.3% of total US gas consumption of 30.5 trillion cubic feet in the same year.

Gas stoves are coming under renewed scrutiny for indoor air pollution and climate-changing emissions from burning fuel.

In October, researchers discovered a gas stove in California it was benzene is leaking, cancer-causing contaminants. A January study found that stoves were linked to the increase asthma risk.

Richard Tramka, a member of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission appointed by Joe Biden, said in January, referring to gas stoves, that “products that cannot be made safe may be banned.” rice field.

The CPSC quickly clarified that it was not considering a ban on gas stoves, a comment that provoked a backlash from Republican lawmakers.

The Energy Department proposed efficiency standards for stoves in February, with a goal of 2027 to go into effect. The Department of Energy denounced the accusations, saying the government was not trying to ban gas stoves.absurd”.

Gas stoves have been targeted in some municipal and state jurisdictions. In May, New York became the first state to ban natural gas connections to new buildings, banning gas stoves along with water heaters, clothes dryers and other gas-burning appliances. Services to existing buildings were not affected by this law.

“Approaches from many states and cities across the United States are actually changing building codes that require all electrical installations,” said Richard Meyer, vice president of energy markets for the American Gas Association, which represents gas utilities. It was meant to be done,” he said. Or refuse to connect fuel gas appliances to the home. ”

In Washington, the stove has become a symbol of the culture wars for Republicans who claim the government wants to regulate consumers’ fuel choices. “God. Guns. Gas stoves,” wrote Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan. twitter in January.

The Republican-controlled House last month passed the Save Our Gas Stoves Act and the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act, which would block the CPSC’s ban on stoves.

The AGA welcomed the bill, arguing that “customers want natural gas,” urging it to pass in the Democratic-controlled Senate. The U.S. Public Gas Association, which represents municipally owned utilities, Said The bill would “block regulatory attacks on gas-cooking products that significantly impact the direct use of natural gas, allegations by APGA members.”

Utilities have warned investors of the threat of restrictions. Houston-based CenterPoint Energy, which supplies gas in six states, said in its annual report that customer growth could be impacted by “a ban or further regulation of natural gas-fired equipment.” I warned you there is.

Asked about federal lobbying, Centerpoint said it believes it is important for the Congressional Office to understand the impact of regulations and laws on customers’ fuel choices.

Consumers Energy, a subsidiary of CMS Energy, said its Michigan utility “is focused on policies that provide optimal service and affordable access to energy” to its customers. We support the bipartisan Protect Your Gas Stove Act and hope to encourage further discussion,” he added. It calls for cooperation among policy makers as we work towards the goal of achieving a carbon-neutral natural gas system by 2050. ”

The UK-based National Grid, which has operations in the northeastern United States, also lobbied for the Gas Stove Protection and Freedom Act and the Save Our Gas Stove Act. record but the records do not specify the company’s position on the bill. National Grid did not respond to a request for comment.

Kelly of Hennessy Funds said the energy used in stoves is a “pretty small” share of a gas utility’s total revenue. At home, natural gas is mainly used for heating.

But gas stoves are coming under scrutiny as climate change advocates push for widespread electrification of energy systems that use zero-carbon sources such as solar, wind and nuclear instead of direct burning of fuel. It is

“One of the reasons the industry and industry groups are fighting so hard against this is because it could be seen as a first step,” Kelly said.

Joe Vukovich of the Natural Resources Defense Council environmental group accused the industry of taking a “scorched earth” approach.

“They keep trying to portray what is not a gas stove ban as if it were a gas stove ban,” Vukovich said. “This is a strategy that we have seen in various policy areas trying to portray what the opposition is doing as prohibitions and anti-consumer choices and how bad it is and how un-American it is. I claim there is.”

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https://www.ft.com/content/aece8bad-a4cf-462c-b2b3-5df10c7548a4 U.S. utility defends gas stoves to avert electrification threat

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